Think you know the logistics sector? Forget those jobs in dark, grimy warehouses. There are exciting jobs in the industry that embrace new technologies – and you can even help make a change with these jobs.
“Jobs in the warehouse will shift towards more complex and control tower functions, and present attractive career opportunities in logistics,” said Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies last year.
“Automation will also create demand for jobs such as solution designers, automation specialists and information system specialists,” he added.1
It is these jobs where there is potential to make a real impact within your community and beyond it.
How logistics can curb climate change
Creativity may not be the most natural attribute to associate with logistics. However, the industry is centred around creative ways to utilise new technologies to make entire processes and systems be more efficient, cost-effective as well as eco-friendly.
In a commentary, Martin Palmer, commercial director at logistics company Wincanton, said: “From mobile phones and the internet through to automation and robots, our world is very different now than it was 20 years ago. It is great to witness such developments, especially when it comes to reflecting on the changes that the logistics industry has been going through”.
He added: “Innovations in fuel efficiency, driver training and data capture have changed essential aspects of the supply chain and logistics providers now have all the right tools to deliver the highest standards of operational excellence and customer service.”2
Indeed, logistics companies play a major role in reducing the global carbon footprint and are continually looking for new ways to ensure that supply chain solutions are sustainable.
For example, German logistics company Kuehne + Nagel has dedicated itself to establishing an environment policy that is sustainable. They have developed an environmentally friendly supply chain model that reduces transport distances and uses rail whenever possible.3
Logistics can help fight crime
A Singapore company, Ascent Solution, is one company that has used the Internet of Things to come up with innovative cargo-tracking solutions to help companies and government authorities track items more efficiently.
“In the good old days, transporting cargo across international borders meant you have to import it and re-export the product in the different countries along the route. This required more documentation and customs processes were often delayed,” says Ascent Solutions CEO Mr Lim Chee Kean.
So Ascent Solutions came up with a technological solution. “iSpot is a tamper-proof tracking device and lock that allows you to track the truck and the cargo content. This means that customs officers do not have to physically inspect the cargo repeatedly”. This has essentially cut the time to transport cargo significantly as many government agencies especially in Asia and Africa recognise the iSpot seal.
The iSpot also enables monitoring of the transportation process of the cargo, which is especially important for products that can be worth up to millions of dollars. “There used to be cases where the driver would draw the petrol out of the truck. iSpot allows you to monitor that as it gives alerts when the fuel is low,” says Mr Lim.
“In many cases, when a crime is committed, it’s never on the main road. So drivers usually deviate from the route – and when they do this, the device alerts the necessary people. Through machine learning and analytics, we can even tell you the probability of something happening,” he added.
Logistics may have been dogged by red tape and a rigid infrastructure – but that is quickly changing. Even the government is taking notice.
The logistics industry will undergo a makeover with the government’s $4.5 billion Industry Transformation Programme.4 The goals for this programme is to be operationally excellent, to be leaders in innovation, and to build up a strong core of local logistics talent and firms.
It will do so by improving the capabilities by setting up centres of innovation and excellence.
Logistics saves lives
With logistics, it is even possible to change lives. Ascent Solutions’ Mr Lim said: “What excites me most is to see these technological applications improve the lives of people in the countries we bring it to. For example, we do a lot of business in many African nations. As we shorten the transportation time of cargo, we also reduce the costs. And the savings are passed on to the consumers. It makes a difference”.
He also added: “The logistics industry now is particularly exciting because we can see how technology and innovation in the industry immediately impacts the lives and brings benefits to many markets – especially the emerging market”.
Be on the forefront of change
These days everyone expects things instantly – especially as e-commerce and m-commerce continue to grow. And it is up to the logistics industry that has to innovate constantly to fulfil these demands for the on-demand generation.
Dr Brian Fynes, the Professor of Supply Chain Management at the College of Business at the University College of Dublin, said: “The logistics industry faces significant challenges in the shape of instantaneous gratification for the on-demand generation, regulation and compliance and environmental pressures. The industry is facing major changes and is ripe for new disruptive startups that use technology and the sharing economy to create a new type of business model based on value co-creation”.
He also added: “Companies like Deliv and Zendfast have developed digital last-mile solutions that provide an online, on-demand service matching businesses that have a collection or delivery requirement with crowd-sourced couriers. These business models use a point-to-point technology when you need a delivery now, not tomorrow”.
He said that it is such disruptions that will provide exciting new career paths in logistics in areas such as predictive logistics analytics, global logistics co-ordination and end-to-end supply chain management.
Make a difference through logistics. Enrol in the University College Dublin’s (UCD) Bachelor of Business Studies (Honours) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (Full-time), Bachelor of Business Studies (Honours) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (Part-time) or Master of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (Part-time)